#FreeRomanProtasevich: EU calls for release of Belarus journalist

#FreeRomanProtasevich: EU calls for release of Belarus journalist
Date: Tuesday, 08 June 2021 14:26

The move was immediately met with widespread condemnation from all around the world and led to calls for sanctions against the country.

Parliament President David Sassoli said: “The events in Belarus, with the hijacking of a civil plane to arrest opponents of the regime, require a leap forward in our response in both strength and speed.”

Parliament and other EU institutions are calling for the immediate release of Protasevich and urge everyone to speak up about this blatant breach of fundamental rights.

What you could do to help get Roman Protasevich released

The abuse of human rights can only thrive in silence. Help create a noise by speaking up for Protasevic and Sapega who are currently being silenced and detained.

What you could do online:

  • Use the hashtag #FreeRomanProtasevich and #FreeSofiaSapega on Twitter and other platforms
  • Help us to spread the message by sharing this article and our posts on social media, such as our tweet

You could come up with your own ways to protest. For example, President Sassoli suggested using airports to highlight the cause: “I think it would be a very positive gesture if a photo of Roman Protasevich were to be displayed in the main airports of European Union member states, as a mark of solidarity and to show that we will not fail him.”

What the EU is doing in response to the actions by Belarus

EU leaders met a day after the forced redirection of the Ryanair flight to decide on a common response. President Sassoli opened the summit with a call for action: “Our response must be strong, immediate and unified. The European Union must act without hesitation and punish those responsible. Tonight you have a great responsibility to show that the Union is not a paper tiger.”

EU leaders agreed to ban Belarusian planes from flying in EU airspaces or using EU airports. They also called for the release of Protasevich and Sapega as well as an investigation by the International Civil Aviation Organization. They also agreed targeted economic sanctions and to add to the list of people subject to sanctions.

What the European Parliament has called for regarding Belarus

Parliament’s foreign affairs committee discussed the events in Belarus on 26 May with opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya. She told MEPs: "I call on the European Parliament to ensure that the reaction of the international community is not limited to the Ryanair flight incident. The response must address the situation in Belarus in its entirety."

Parliament has regularly called for fair elections in Belarus as well as for respect for human rights and the rule of law.

Last year alone, MEPs called for:

  • New and fair presidential election in Belarus
  • Stronger sanctions against regime officials involved in human rights abuses
  • Support for the people of Belarus
  • A comprehensive review of EU relations with the country

In 2020, MEPs awarded the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought to the democratic opposition in Belarus.

Read more about the EU’s links with other countries

  • EU-Russia relations under strain: what are the causes?
  • New US president: how EU-US relations could improve
  • EU-Turkey relations: between cooperation and tensions
Find out more
  • Joint statement by David McAllister, chair of the foreign affairs committee; Robert Biedroń, chair of the delegation for relations with Belarus, and Petras Auštrevičius, the Parliament’s standing rapporteur on Belarus
  • Briefing: support to opposition in Belarus (October 2020)
  • Briefing; Belarus on the blink (August 2020)
  • Briefing: democratic opposition in Belarus (December 2020
  • Human rights in Belarus: the EU’s role since 2016 (June 2018)